We’ve asked experts on family ministry for their tips and strategies to help your ministry connect with families. Here are five can’t-miss secrets from the experts.
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Good news/bad news time.
Good news: 85 percent of parents with children under age 13 believe they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs and spiritual matters, according to the Barna Research Group.
Bad news: the majority of parents “do not spend any time during a typical week discussing religious matters or studying religious materials with their children.”
What can we take from this information? There is a clear opportunity to help equip our parents and families to help them foster a nurturing faith environment at home. We’ve asked the experts on family ministry for their tips and strategies that can help your ministry connect with families. Here are five can’t-miss family ministry tips from the experts.
1. Children’s Ministry to Family Ministry Many churches are asking their children’s ministry leaders to refocus and rebrand into a family ministry. There are basically three models of family ministry that many churches go with: the family-integration model, family-friendly departmental model, and the family-equipping model. Check out Larry Shallenberger’s guide to each to find out what works best with your ministry.
2. Strengthen Family Ties In an interview with Bill Carmichael, co-founder of Good Family magazines (Virtue, Christian Parenting Today, and Parents of Teenagers), Stephanie Martin asked how busy children’s ministers can keep their families healthy. Bill’s answer? “The most effective thing parents can do is to be prayer warriors on behalf of their kids.” By putting a focus on prayer, we can help parents strengthen families.
3. Make Connections Between Home and Church Sometimes taking simple steps to help communication is all you need to give your parents a boost. Suzanne Perdew has come up with some great simple tips that you can use today. My favorite is setting up a family-enrichment committee, like a church in Nashville, Tennessee did. The committee plans programs and activities that’ll promote the mental and spiritual development of families.
4. Help Parents Succeed In an article about partnering with parents, Mike Sciarra and Carmen Kamrath provide some great practical tips that are sure to help. I really enjoyed the breakdown of the primary ways you can help parents succeed in their role as their children’s faith developers. First, give parents simple faith-building activities they can do at home. Next, take steps to bridge the gap between church and home (such as giving parents a copy of your curriculum’s scope and sequence). Finally, equip parents with resources (many are provided within the link).
5. Hold a Parent Meeting We know that parents want to take the lead when it comes to talking about faith with their children. Hold a simple meeting to equip and encourage parents to begin naturally passing on their faith to their children. It’s not as hard as it seems because it’s really about conversation and relationships. When parents are aware that their children are watching, absorbing, and cataloguing their every interaction, it’s easy for parents to begin to intentionally model the faith they want to pass on.
There are two primary ways you can help parents in their role as children’s faith developers.
Encourage parents to do these simple faith-building activities with their children.
- Pray daily with and for your children.
- Memorize one verse together as a family each week.
- Review Sunday school take-home papers. Do the activities together. Talk through the recommended discussion questions.
- Be with your children daily — talking, listening, and applying Bible truths to your lives and theirs.
- Read Scripture together. It doesn’t have to be much, but it has to be clear that God’s Word is an important resource and part of daily life.
Provide faith-building connections between homes and your church.
- Give a copy of your curriculum’s scope and sequence to each family so parents know what Bible personalities and stories children are studying in Sunday school.
- Create a prayer room at your church where entire families can go and pray together.
- Organize family outings such as day trips, outreach opportunities, and service projects.
- Send a monthly newsletter with information about your ministry and practical, spiritual helps for parents.
(The Parenting Christian Kids newsletter is a customizable monthly newsletter designed to let you connect with the families in your children’s ministry. Each month you get a complete, themed newsletter to keep parents informed with a minimal amount of work. You can alter the contents or use it as is. Plus…it’s easy to distribute! You can simply email it, post it, mail it, or print it and distribute.)
Looking for more great ways to partner with parents? Check out the new book by Phil Bell, Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering With Parents. You’ll find a complete, proven plan for effectively reaching and partnering with the parents in your ministry so they take the lead at home and at church as their children’s spiritual leaders.
How have you been focusing on families in your ministry? What tips would you share? Let us know using the comment section below!
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